Digital technology supports learning in Papua New Guinea

Read how GPE is working with the government of Papua New Guinea and partners to counter education setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforce the resilience of the education system through digital learning.

November 16, 2022 by Josiah Kana, UNICEF Papua New Guinea
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4 minutes read
Hebron, an 11-year-old student in grade 5 at Sevese Morea Primary School, posing with the Spark Kit tablet he uses. Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021
Hebron, an 11-year-old student in grade 5 at Sevese Morea Primary School, posing with the Spark Kit tablet he uses.
Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

Sevese Morea Primary School is one of many schools across Papua New Guinea (PNG) that suspended classes for several weeks between March 2020 and June 2021 following a government instruction to close schools due to COVID-19.

Up to 1,020 students who attend this school were sent home. Many did not have any opportunity to continue learning at home, and this was clear when they returned to school.

  • Students going through their reading lesson with their teacher using Spark Kit tablets.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

  • Mrs. Korova and her students of class 5C.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

     

“A lot of my students found it very difficult to catch up and pick up where we left off because they had been out of class for too long during the lockdowns last year,” says Mrs. Korova who teaches grades 3, 4, and 5 English at the Sevese Morea Primary School.

“It’s sad because their brain is young, so to teach them, we first have to capture their attention with a story or a song and then repeat continuously the lessons principles like math formulas or English language rules,” she adds.

Thankfully, Sevese Morea is among 24 schools in Port Moresby, capital city of PNG, that is trialing the “Spark Kit”, a portable solar-powered box packed with tablets containing educational software applications. The tablets help students to catch up on their lessons and improve their learning experience.

“We currently do not have a proper library in the school, so the Spark Kits have helped me with my reading lessons with the young ones. It also helps with preparations for my English lessons with my students,” says Mrs. Korova.

“I really appreciate the fact that the tablet has a built-in voice narrator for each story, and this really helps the student to learn at their own pace on English dictation lessons, and proper pronunciation of words,” she adds.

  • Mrs. Korova, a teacher at Sevese Morea Primary School, handing out Spark Kit tablets to her students during class.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

  • Hebron (11), using the Spark Kit tablet to complete his English lesson.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

“If I was given permission to take one of the tablets home, my first books to read would be science books because I wish to be a doctor when I grow up,” says 11-year-old Hebron, who is in grade 5.

“The thing I enjoy most about these Spark Kit tablets, are the lessons learned from the stories that can be accessed from its library application. I just hope my teachers will allow me to take the tablets home because there are a lot of interesting books to read,” he adds.

Hebron’s classmate, Angelina, is another fan of the Spark Kits.

“I struggled with reading but now I can pronounce words like ‘delicious’ thanks to the tablet,” says Angelina. “I want these tablets to stay with me and my class till our 8th grade because the books inside are very helpful. Even the tablet games are fun to play, and they help with mathematics and English,” Angelina adds.

Hebron and Angelina’s classes are among several currently trialing the Spark Kit tablets as part of the PNG Government’s Education Emergency Response and Recovery Plan (EERRP), which aims to sustain learning and inclusion during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital learning material accessed through the tablets is helping ensure that students cannot only continue but also boost their learning upon returning to school.

  • Angelina, a 13-year-old student in grade 5 at Sevese Morea Primary School, using the Spark Kit tablet.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

  • A grade 5 student using the Spark Kit tablet to finish his lesson.
    Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

Each of the 24 schools in Port Moresby received one kit that contains 40 tablets. Each tablet can serve at least 20 students from different grades. The tablets contain over 900 different learning software ranging from short stories, textbooks, encyclopedias, educational games, and up-to-date lesson plans designed by the students’ teachers.

Every student sets up an account on the tablet by filling in their grade, age, class and gender so that the smart device can tailor the contents specifically to the student’s learning needs and grade.

The Spark Kit is one of various interventions aiming to counter education setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to helping students catch up on lost learning, the development and distribution of this digital technology provides opportunities to contribute to the ongoing resilience of the education system in PNG to adapt and respond to future crises.

The implementation of the emergency program is supported by funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) under the COVID-19 Accelerated Funding and the Australian Government through the PNGAus Partnership.

Each Spark digital kit box contains 40 tablets. Credit: UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021
Each Spark digital kit box contains 40 tablets.
Credit:
UNICEF PNG/Josiah Kana/2021

UNICEF is the lead facilitating agency of the support under the EERRP and works in close collaboration with the PNG Department of Education and implementing partners - World Vision, Save the Children and Child Fund – to deliver interventions, including psychosocial support training; learning support and resources to recover from learning loss; water, sanitation and hygiene facilities; training for remote e-learning and inclusive education in 6 areas: Kiunga (Northfly - Western province), Telefomin (Sandaun province), Bougainville (Autonomous Region of Bougainville), Madang, Lae Morobe and National Capital District, reaching about 300,000 students.

Learn more about our work in PNG.

COVID-19, ICT
East Asia and Pacific: Papua New Guinea

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How do we cope with ratio of increased student enrollments and lack of facilities like School desks & classrooms?

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